Speech and language services in the schools

OK. You just received a letter in the mail from the school saying your child is being referred for speech and language testing and services. So now you’re probably thinking “what is a Speech Pathologist and what do they do? What is this “testing/evaluation” going to look like for my kid?” 

Let’s break it all down, starting with who will begin this process with your kiddo: the SLP. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) “works to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults.”  

Now, you may be thinking “Um, speech and language? What’s the difference?” Well, if your child has trouble with speech, they will struggle with the “how-to” of talking. More or less, your child will have difficulty with the coordination of the muscles and/or movements necessary to produce accurate speech sounds. Often in the SLP world, saying “sounds” is referred to as articulation. If your child has trouble with language, they may struggle with understanding or comprehending what they hear (receptive language) or they may struggle with having the words necessary to express their thoughts into a meaningful message (expressive language). It is possible that a child may have issues with one area–speech or language–but it is not uncommon that speech and language difficulties co-occur.  

Now back to the words “Testing and evaluations.” Really, testing for speech and language is nothing that you, as a parent, or your child should fear.  In all reality, your child will most likely not realize that they are even taking a “test”. The evaluations are performed in order to give the SLP more specific information about the speech and language development of your child and help determine if there are any skills that may need to be addressed. We, as SLP’s, are able to create goals for your child based on their needs demonstrated from the test results.

After testing and confirmation that your child qualifies in the school system, the SLP will begin to instruct, model, and teach your child in their areas of need. The SLP will continue to monitor and measure your child’s progress during their sessions to determine if the goals that were created after testing have been met, or how therapy may need to be adjusted in order to continue progress.  You should get updates on their progress. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to speak up! The SLP will be glad to speak with you and answer any questions you may have.

If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language skills, please contact our office. We would love to set up a free screening to determine if your child may benefit from our services. Curlee would love to work with your family!

Madison McDowell, M.A. CCC-SLP

Navigating the IEP Process

We know that the beginning of the year can be stressful. For some parents, needing an IEP for their child can add additional stress and anxiety. Navigating the IEP process can seem daunting, but with the right information and knowledge of your rights and the rights of your child, you can be well prepared for an IEP meeting. We’d love to walk you through the process and put your mind at ease!

When you receive a letter in the mail stating that a meeting will be held regarding your child’s speech and language, make sure you sign the paper that you will be able to meet with the team at your child’s school or that you would like to change the date. If the date and time are not convenient for you, that is okay! You have the right to change the meeting to a time that is convenient for you.

The first meeting will be to talk about the concerns regarding speech and/or language skills. Members of the IEP team include you, the speech-language pathologist, the classroom teacher, and a local education agency, which may mean a counselor or principal. All of you will decide together whether or not your child should be tested for speech or language services. If you have an older child in middle or high school, he can be at the meeting to provide his input as well. You are entitled to bring anyone to the meeting. You can bring a grandparent, a trusted friend, an attorney, or even another speech-language pathologist. You can also request certain people to be at the meeting, such as a certain classroom teacher or administrator. 

If you decide to have your child tested, the speech-language pathologist (SLP) can share how your child will be tested, what tests will be given and listen to your concerns. Once your child is tested, you will receive another letter to have a meeting to discuss the results. Again, you can bring someone to the meeting with you if you choose. If your child qualifies to receive services in the school, the team-which includes you-will set up some goals for the speech-language pathologist to work on with your child throughout the year. You will discuss the frequency that your child will receive services and how those services will be provided. You will also talk about your child’s medical history, development, other concerns you have, as well as your child’s strengths and weaknesses. This will all be documented in an Individualized Education Program or IEP.

 Speech-language therapy through the school system is always a free service to you and your child. Your child’s speech-language pathologist will send home progress reports throughout the year and you can contact the SLP at any time to discuss progress. Each year, the team will update the IEP with any changes to goals or to consider any other services that may be beneficial for your child. Every three years, your child will be assessed and you can see how much progress your child has made throughout the year. Remember that the IEP team includes YOU. You know your child best and the IEP team wants to work with you to help your child succeed!  

If you have any questions about your child’s speech and language development, the IEP process, or ways that we can work together to help your child, please contact us— we would love to assist your family!

Margie Busby, M.S. CCC-SLP